Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Shakespeare paper

Messrs. Burns and Coon
Essay assignment

Write an essay of two to three pages (not including heading) or approximately 600 – 750 words based on one of the following prompts.

1.              This play is often called a “problem play” because it fits neatly into neither the conventions of comedy or tragedy. In your view, is the play more a tragedy or comedy? Why?

2.              Of friendship, parent and child, romantic love, and love of possessions and money, which is the strongest form of love in the play? Which displays the greatest tension? What examples can you cite to support your view?

3.              Is this an anti-Semitic play that promotes hatred toward Jews? Or does the text offer a different message? If so, what is that message?

4.              Slightly different take on a similar topic: Is Shylock more of a villain or a victim? What support can you find for your view?

5.              How does the plot of the rings relate to the other “obligations” presented in the play? Does the tension between justice and mercy relate to this part of the plot differently from its role in the trial scene?

6.              Identify a topic from the play you would like to explore in more detail: a close reading of a scene, an analysis of a key speech, a comparison of two characters, or something else. If you choose this option, please let one of us confer with you on your choice of topic.


LENGTH:         2 to 3 pages (approximately 600-750 words), typed, double spaced, 12 point serif font, one-inch margins all around.

RESOURCES:  None, please. If you look up ANY external information, be sure to cite it thoroughly and properly both in your paper and in a Works Cited page. Otherwise you do not need a Works Cited. Cite any quotations by act, scene, and line (4.1.321-24, for example).

DUE: In class, Tuesday, February 4 (day 6 schedule) title: Merchant of Venice.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Revised January Schedule--AP

See the AP assignment page for new due dates for draft, acts 4 & 5 of Hamlet, and final paper.

Friday, January 17, 2014

I-Search paper tips & hints

When you are ready to begin writing, look here for suggestions about the content of the paper.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Online resources--I-Search

Here is a link to some online reference works dealing with words and word history.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Biography of a Word assignment

AP English                 January 2014                         “I-Search a Word” assignment

Assignment: Write a paper of 5 to 7 pages containing an extended definition of a single word, a commonly used word, but one with an abstract or intangible quality to its meaning. In your paper you will make full reference to the sources you have consulted, but the style of the paper will be a first-person account of your search for the word’s ultimate meaning and an analysis of what you learn along the way.

Sources: Consult the following sources to include all the necessary information in your paper:
1.     The Oxford English Dictionary (20 volume 2nd edition) in our library—what are the earliest uses and contexts for your word recorded in the English language? What meanings have evolved over time? Which uses are now obsolete? Which ones match your understanding of your word? Which contain surprises?
2.     Webster’s Third International Dictionary (3 volumes) in our library—what key definitions, examples, and other information does the dictionary give for the word? How is the information organized differently from the OED?
3.     Either or both of the following: Samuel Johnson’s 1755 dictionary (available online) or Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary (available through
4.     A dictionary of etymology, either online or in our library. How does its information compare to that of the OED?
5.     A print or online thesaurus—what are the most important synonyms for your word? Include a list from the thesaurus in the sources section of your folder.
6.     A Concordance to Shakespeare—how frequently does your word occur? Copy a few key speeches containing the word and the plays in which they are found. Give an example of an interesting or original way in which Shakespeare uses the word.
7.     A Concordance to the Bible—list a few important verses containing the word and copy these verses onto a page in your sources section. How do they help you understand the full significance of your word? Pay special attention to the Authorized or King James Version of 1611 (KJV). Compare a key verse to that of the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of 1946.
8.     A statement of what the word means to you, both before and after you conduct your research.
9.     Optional sources to round out your understanding: a dictionary of slang, a poem in which the word occurs, a citation from an online quotations list, a work of art or music, a book about words and language, a work of history, a newspaper article, cartoon, television show, or movie.

Process: Gather your findings in a binder. The first thing in the binder you submit will be the final copy of your paper, then your draft, edited by two peers, and a section containing the annotated printouts of all your research materials with sources clearly indicated.

Rationale: According to Edward Jenkinson and Donald Seybold, “it is extremely difficult for anyone to define a word that does not have objective [meaning]. Yet the ideas, feelings, and emotions that are most significant in our lives are conveyed [by such words]. . . .Everyone who uses such words as freedom, rich, or love has slightly different notions about what those words mean, [yet] we frequently act as if we are talking about the same thing when we use such words.” Thus, this assignment is to sift through our assumptions about one abstract word to find relevant historical information about its uses and meanings throughout the history of the English language.

·       Have your word chosen and approved by me by the beginning of class 3 (January 13, preferably sooner).  Everyone must have a different word.
·       We will spend parts of two classes in the library looking at the OED and other source material.
·       Your journal for class 4 will include your previous understanding of the word along with a brief summary of what you have learned so far in your research. It may be incorporated in some fashion into your draft the following week.
·       Class 8 (January 27), bring your drafts to class, five pages minimum.
·       Binders are due at the beginning of class 10, January 30. Final drafts must also be submitted by that time to (assignment title: I-Search a Word).

Style: Write your paper as a first-person account of your search for the ultimate meaning of your word. Use your sources to make your analysis of the word credible, but connect those sources to your personal quest for the word’s meaning, your previous understanding of the word, and what you learned along the way, both about the word and the research process. You should both summarize and analyze the information you gather from your sources in the body of the paper, searching for meaningful connections between sources. Information should be cited parenthetically, linked to a properly formatted list of Works Cited at the end of your paper.

Words: I’ve brainstormed over 100 words, but you may suggest a word not on this list, as long as it meets the requirements stated above. Everyone must have a different word. Here is my list:

·       Anger
·       Atonement
·       Beauty
·       Belief
·       Bliss
·       Brave
·       Burden
·       Calm
·       Chance
·       Chaos
·       Charity
·       Charm
·       Confusion
·       Courage
·       Courtesy
·       Cruel
·       Cunning
·       Curious
·       Curse
·       Darkness
·       Despair
·       Destiny
·       Doom
·       Doubt
·       Envy
·       Evil
·       Faith
·       Fame
·       Fate
·       Fear
·       Fortune
·       Freedom
·       Friend
·       Generous
·       Genius
·       Glee
·       Glory
·       Glutton
·       Good
·       Grace
·       Greatness
·       Greed
·       Guile
·       Guilt
·       Happiness
·       Hatred
·       Heart
·       Holy
·       Honor
·       Hope
·       Human
·       Idea
·       Ignorant
·       Illusion
·       Imagination
·       Inspiration
·       Jealousy
·       Journey
·       Joy
·       Justice
·       Kindness
·       Knowledge
·       Love
·       Loyalty
·       Luck
·       Lust
·       Mercy
·       Mind
·       Miracle
·       Natural
·       Normal
·       Pain
·       Passion
·       Patriot
·       Peace
·       Pride
·       Quest
·       Rational
·       Reality
·       Reason
·       Redemption
·       Revenge
·       Riches
·       Righteous
·       Romance
·       Sacrifice
·       Savage
·       Serene
·       Shame
·       Sin
·       Sorrow
·       Soul
·       Spirit
·       Sublime
·       Success
·       Terror
·       Trust
·       Truth
·       Valor
·       Vanity
·       Wealth
·       Weird
·       Wisdom
·       Wonder

What word interests you sufficiently to spend two weeks researching and writing about its history and most important meanings? After we review this assignment during  class 1 for both sections, I will accept requests for words beginning after lunch Wednesday January 8.. By class 2 (January 9), everyone must have selected a word to work with.